Account Management/Client Servicing has always evoked debates regarding what the role consists of, with no set and agreed manuals in place(call it what you will, the 2 nomenclatures itself paint diverse portraits. I believe the former sets the right expectations for all concerned).
Is it just about coordination or being a brand custodian? How much should you know about each discipline? When should you take a stand on output? The challenge is further exacerbated in a digital world with so many more disciplines at play.
At DigitasLBi, we believe that T shaped personalities are best suited for this profile. They develop an in depth knowledge of brand marketing and business combined with a broad understanding of creativity, technology, media and communications planning. But even more than just the skills, the right attitude is critical to succeed.
What we call the right attitude:
• Take ownership and endeavour to make your boss redundant – seek their guidance, but run the show. This allows both of you to grow. Be solution focused – always think of a potential solution before approaching someone with a problem
• Be open minded – Learn from everyone around and ask lots of questions
• Be proactive – About your work, as well as volunteering for learning experiences such as pitches and special projects
• Be vigilant –pre-empt issues
• Be honest, take responsibility. Genuine mistakes are forgiven, cover-ups are not
• Make lots of mistakes, but never make the same one twice
• Be polite. Be humble. Never be highhanded even if you’re dealing with juniors or staff
• Be a team player. Be responsible. Be dependable.
• Be a phenomenal listener
The right skill sets:
A mix of being a brand manager, a business manager, a relationship manager, a digital knowledge repository and as you grow, a line manager and leader.
Being a great brand manager – OWN your brand
Enthusiasm and passion for a brand shines through. It’s how you will be seen as a true partner.Aim to be THE MOST knowledgeable, alert and proactive person on the brand.Be meticulous and develop an eye for detail –every piece of communication you put out is BRAND COMMUNICATION.
Know your brand:
The category trajectory, competition, the consumer psychographics, demographics, digital and media consumption. Your brand – positioning, identity, history and heritage, sales by value and volume, perception in market and key features, benefits, claims and reasons to believe for products.
Conduct market visits,trials and talk to sales teams. Keep a track of analytics and performance of all brand web properties and content.
Once you are armed with this knowledge, strategy will come easily.Be passionate about execution, even a post. Strategy without impeccable execution is a complete failure.
Internally, you need to be the brand custodian. Start with inspiring briefs and ensure that every piece of communication is in line with brand identity and tone of voice. Share objective feedback with the team. Neverlet it be subjective and based on your personal taste.
Be a good business manager:
Think of your account as your own business, which has Profit & Loss concerns, balanced with strategic and long-term considerations.
Work with finance teams to ensure the brand finances are well managed, and processes are being followed. Maintain financial status reports for organised management.Ensure that every piece of communication is legal (Copyrights etc.). Maintain proper documentation of all conversations and approvals.
Celebrate good work by pushing for awards and PR, which helps the brand image and the agency.
Be a good relationship manager:
Treat everyone respectfully, never take peoples time for granted. Make life easier for all around with quality briefs and direction, and QC before sending anything out. Be accessible – even if you don’t have answers, DO NOT avoid calls. Never shoot down peoples POV without reason, and as far as possible build on it. Share the credit for successes with all concerned.
Be supremely knowledgeable about digital marketing:
Some things you must be aware of and in touch with at any point of time:
• The digital landscape: Sources such as ICube, Comscore, IAMAI and eMarketer will help
• Current and emerging trends: Digital marketing, technology, media etc. Regularly read sites such as Mashable, TechCrunch, Wired etc.
• Keep abreast with great digital creative work on Digital Buzz Blog, FWA, Social Samosa, etc.
• Web development basics and the processes involved in getting digital work done. You don’t need to know how to code, but you do need to understand how web technology works at a conceptual level
• Digital media basics: Even if your agency does not do media buying, it is critical to know the basics of digital media, in order to see the holistic paid, owned, earned media picture and evaluate what’s right for your brand
• The Advertising and Media industry: Keep a track of all trade publications
This is not a one-time exercise, but an acquired habit. You can simplify this using mobile aggregation apps, RSS feeds etc. so you can get the information on the go.
Your clients come to the agency seeking digital expertise and you are the face. If you do not inspire confidence in your digital knowledge, your clients will not respect you and the agency.
Lastly, be a good line manager, or rather a leader:
As a line manager, your primary responsibility is to protect and mentor your team and ensure their growth.This is an entire subject by itself which we can discuss another time.
To understand account management in the digital world better, be a part of our Facebook workshop. Details here.